The Canadian bureaucrat who wrote the mandatory transport vaccination policy thought Canada would be ahead of the curve with the measure, but instead it remained an oddity, court documents reveal.
In a briefing prepared for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra ahead of the mandate coming into effect at the end of October 2021, the policy was presented as a “world-leading travel vaccination requirement”.
The October 2 briefing “Implementing a vaccine mandate for the transportation sector” was prepared by Jennifer Little, director general of Transport Canada’s COVID Recovery Team.
Little, who filed an affidavit in April, was questioned in June as a witness supporting the government in its defense of four lawsuits challenging the travel vaccine mandate.
“Who came up with this? Is that something you said?” attorney Sam Presvelos asked Little about the “world leader” designation.
“Well, of course it was part of the analysis,” she replied. “As we were working on that in terms of the scope of what we’re outlining in setting a policy at that time, it set Canada as quite a front-runner in terms of vaccination mandates for the sector.”
The summary said Canada would have “one of the strongest traveler vaccination mandates in the world.” He described the mandate as “slightly” stronger than that of France or Italy.
“Don’t you think that giving five million of your citizens the option to leave the country … makes your mandate a lot more than a little stronger?” asked lawyer and applicant Nabil Belkacem.
“I agree it’s a strong mandate,” Little replied.
Pak was asked if she was aware of any other states that prevent unvaccinated individuals from flying domestically or internationally.
“I’m not aware of anyone requiring them domestically among the G7,” she said, adding that some have cross-border requirements.
France imposed a vaccine mandate for long-distance domestic travel on January 24, but suspended it on March 14, along with the suspension of the vaccine passport in other settings.
Italy had a travel mandate from September 1 to May 31, but testing was allowed as an alternative and natural immunity was recognized.
Neither the World Health Organization nor the International Civil Aviation Organization support mandatory travel vaccination.
The Liberal government suspended vaccine mandates for domestic travel and the public sector on June 20, while warning they could be reinstated depending on circumstances.
At the time, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the mandates were lifted “after reviewing the latest scientific evidence, the evolution of the COVID-19 epidemiology globally and in Canada, vaccination coverage rates and listening to the advice of officials and experts of public health”.
Pak testified that there were no criteria for determining when the mandate could be removed.
“There are a number of complex considerations that would inform any such decision made,” she said.
Court documents show the government was aware in late December-early January that two doses of the mRNA vaccine offered little protection against COVID-19 infection.
“I remember it becoming clear to us that two doses or doses that were given a few months ago were less protective,” said Dr. Eleni Galanis, director general of the Center for Integrated Risk Assessment at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). during the interrogation on June 23.
On February 28, PHAC released the document “Vaccine Science to Inform COVID-19 Vaccination Planning and Policy (2.0).”
According to Little’s statement, the paper said that for the Omicron variant, “vaccine efficacy against infection, symptomatic disease, and transmission with two doses was initially ~<50 to 60%, but faded over time to near zero after six months." .